Stuttering: Risk Factors and Next Steps

Diagnosis Stuttering, pills and stethoscope.

Stuttering: Risk Factors and Next Steps

Knowing the risk factors for stuttering will help you decide whether or not your child should see a speech-language pathologist. If your child has one or more of the risk factors, you should schedule an evaluation.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history of stuttering: A parent, sibling, or other family member who still stutters. If there is a family history of stuttering and that person is still stuttering, the chances of your child stuttering, increases. 
  • Age at onset: After 3.5. Children who begin stuttering before 3.5 are more likely to outgrow it within 6 months.
  • Time since onset: Stuttering 6-12 months or longer. A majority of children will start to show improvement within a year to two years without speech therapy. If your child has been stuttering longer than 6 months and it has gotten worse, an evaluation might be a good idea.
  • Gender: Male. Girls are more likely to outgrow stuttering than boys. There are differences in boys’ and girls’ speech and language abilities.
  • Other speech production concerns: Speech sound errors or trouble being understood. If your child makes frequent speech errors, making it difficult to understand, you should be more concerned.

After reviewing these risk factors, consider the next steps you would like to take for your child. If your child checks off one or more of these risk factors, you may want to schedule a speech evaluation. A speech therapist will be able to work with your child on tools to combat the stuttering but there are some things you should know as well.

Speech therapist working with boy on fixing his stutter.

If your child is stuttering:

  • Don’t fill in the rest of their word or sentence for them
  • Keep eye contact and give them time to finish
  • Ensure your child knows that you are listening by your manner and actions
  • Add a few additional pauses in your own speech to reduce pressure
  • Cut remarks like “slow down,” “take a deep breath,” and “relax” out of the conversation
  • Check with your child about how they would like to deal with a bad day. Some children may want you to ignore it and treat them the same as everyone else or some would like you to lower your verbal expectations for him/her for a while
  • Let your child know that what they say is important, not the way they say it

If you are interested in setting up an evaluation, please fill out this simple form below:

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